Daniel Barenboim and his very first steps to glory

After leaving the communist paradise in 1968, I found myself in a Valhalla with lots of temptations I could barely resist. I spent my entire scholarship on LPs in a music shop on the very first day. Among them were Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas, played by Daniel Barenboim.

I no longer have the records, so I don’t know if they were the same as the recordings from 1959 that I am listening to now, but I don’t think so. In 1959, Barenboim was only 17 years old and I doubt if he already had a recording contract at that time.

What is most striking about his playing is its youthful elan and a naturalness that only a very young genius may command. There is not a trace of doubt in his interpretations and his attack radiates grandeur.

Unintentionally, I am reminded of Pogorelic’s first recordings; Barenboim also pushes the limits, but he never oversteps them. Even though his tempi are sometimes dizzying, such as in the Rondo Allegro in ‘Patetique’. Talk about pathetic! The “Apassionata” also lives up to its name with Barenboim. Rarely does one hear the sonata played so compellingly, almost recklessly.

Even more interesting is the fourth CD with all kinds of pieces, starting with J.Ch. Bach and ending with Shostakovich. Here Kabalevsky’s piano sonatina is an even bigger rarity than the two little gems by Pergolesi. The contemplative second movement, the Andantino, might have been written by Satie, but make no mistake: with the presto, we end up in (somewhat) ‘Prokofiev-land’.

This CD was recorded in 1955, which means that the child Barenboim was not yet thirteen years old at the time. Insane.

It’s really a shame that the textbook barely contains any text, it doesn’t even say where the recordings took place and if they had been released before.

Beethoven Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 14, 21, 23, 29, 32
JC Bach Piano Sonata in B flat major op. 17 No. 6
Pergolesi Piano Sonatas in B flat major & in G major
Mozart Variations KV 265
Mendelssohn Capriccio in F sharp minor op. 5
Brahms Intermezzo in C major op. 119 No. 3
Kabalevsky Sonatina for Piano op. 13 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34 No. 2
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